Tuesday, November 22, 2005

When I first left the church, I thought it was for many reasons. They didn't understand where I was in my life. No one there really seemed to give a damn about me once I chose not to attend the college they had in mind for me or wait for the guy they chose for me to date.
Now, I can see that I left the church for only one reason. It wasn't where I was meant to be. One thing you have to know about me is that I am a people pleaser. I want to make people happy regardless of the cost. In a traditional church setting, I did whatever I thought would make the leadership happy. If it was singing, I sang. If it was dancing, I danced. I wanted to be seen as a faithfull servant, but all my serving had nothing to do with God and everything to do with me. I wanted to be recognised as someone who was worthy.
There were moments when I experienced God in a church setting. I can count them on one hand, but I know they were real moments when I wasn't being fake and I was allowing God to work in me. The majority of time, however, I was faking.
I was hurt by a lot of what happened in my final months attending RF. I was devastated to find out that the people I thought cared about me didn't really care after all. I was astonished at how quickly I became labeled "backslidden".
It wasn't easy for me to make the decision to leave. Rather than tell myself it was over, I came up with excuses not to be in that building with those people. I had too much homework. I had to work. I was too tired. The list went on and on. I forced myself to go many times, but those times were the most awful experiences in my life. I could feel the stares of the people I once fellowshiped with and hear their whispers. The last time I went, I walked out in the middle of service. My eyes were filled with tears and my heart was breaking. I felt like everything I had ever known about God and my relationship with him had been shaken to the ground. I felt guitly for not "staying the course". I felt weak and completely alone. I was sure there was something wrong with me. That somewhere along they way I had taken a wrong turn and there was no going back. My mother and I fought more during this time than we had in my entire life. She pushed and pulled and begged and pleaded for me to come back to church, but there was no way I could. Something inside me had changed. I suddenly realized that it would be better to live in truth and walk away than stay there and live a lie. Weeks later, my mom had the same experience and walked out in the middle of a service. ( I am leaving out a lot of personal details here because I don't want to point the finger in any one direction. What happened happend so that I could see truth, and I am thankfull for that.)
After leaving RF, Aola invited me to her church and I went a few times, but for the most part I was closed off. I was hurt so badly that I didn't let anyone in not even God. I couldn't understand how everything I thought I knew had been a lie. I question God. I doubted myself. I stubled and fumbled and found myself starting back at the begining.
Over the last 6 years it's been a constant battle for me. I struggle with wanting the community found inside those four walls. It's much easier to walk into a place where everyone is just waiting to be your friend and accept you ( of course, they'll turn on you later) than it is to forge your way through the jungle trusting God to lead you to the poeple he wants you to build community with.
Through all of this I have learned that church is not something you attend, but something you are. I've learned that it's okay to be where I am. I don't have to feel quilty for not being farther along on my journey. Most importantly, I've learned to accept other people just as they are and not try to conform them to what I think or believe.
I know that this journey is no where near over. I'll still stumple and fall, but each time I'll pick myself up and start chasing him again.
I have to give a bigh THANK YOU to Aola. Without her love and support I wouldn't have made it through this.


Mypha said...

Hi Sandra

I'm Myriam from Quebec city, Canada.
I'm a new blogger since last night. I've been navigating through other blogs and stoped on yours. I reaaly appreciate reading about your rupture with church. I can feel that this story is well known from you, that you are completely sincere now, and that that sincerity is the work of several years.

I'm afraid you can't read my poetry, because my first langage is French.

however, I wanted to tell you my opinion.


aola said...

We've come a long, long way on this journey, haven't we and still have a way to go but we are in it together for the long haul.

Thank God for the internet!!!!

Kristen said...

Thanks for sharing that, Sandra.